While Chelsea and Reading have not played too many games against each other since the Royals joined the Football League in 1921, there is a strong connection between the clubs in terms of players and managers.

The two teams have met only 20 times in league and cup games over the past 98 years with our most recent competitive match coming in January 2013 when we drew 2-2 in a Premier League encounter at the Madejski Stadium.

With the Blues visiting Berkshire today for a pre-season match against the Championship club, we take a take a look at some notable figures who have played or managed both clubs.

Kerry Dixon

There is little question about Chelsea’s best-ever signing from Reading. Kerry Dixon was a goal machine during his time with the Royals, scoring 26 goals in 1982/83 when he was top scorer in the old Third Division despite his team getting relegated.

He continued his goalscoring exploits after joining the Blues, finishing as the Second Division’s leading scorer with 28 goals when we topped the table in 1983/84 and sharing the top-flight scoring title with Gary Lineker a year later after bagging another 24 goals.

Dixon went on to become a Stamford Bridge legend over nine seasons, playing 420 games and scoring 193 goals to become our second-highest scorer behind Bobby Tambling when he left in 1992.

Steve Francis

Going the opposite way from west London to Berkshire in the mid-1980s was goalkeeper Steve Francis, who made his debut for Chelsea as a 17-year-old in 1981 and replaced the injured Eddie Niedzwiecki for our Full Members’ Cup final victory against Manchester City in 1986.

He made 88 appearances for the Blues before he was sold to Reading in 1987 and established himself as their starting keeper. He went on to win the club’s Player of the Year award in 1986/87, played in goal for another Full Members’ Cup final triumph in 1988 and made more than 250 appearances for the Royals before he left for Huddersfield in 1993.

Paul Canoville

A team-mate of Kerry Dixon and Steve Francis at Chelsea, Paul Canoville was an exciting, speedy winger who had to endure prejudice when he became the club’s first black player to appear in the first team but went on to make over 103 appearances.He helped the Blues win promotion in 1983/84 before his outstanding highlight - a League Cup quarter-final at Sheffield Wednesday. We were losing 3-0 at half-time when Canoville came on as a substitute and scored seconds later before netting again in what ended a 4-4 draw. He joined Reading in 1986 but after just a handful of games for the Royals, a serious knee injury ended his career aged 24.

Steve Sidwell

After coming through Arsenal’s youth system, Steve Sidwell made his name as a midfielder at Reading, twice being named in the PFA Team of the Year as Reading were promoted to the top flight for the first time in 2006 and finished a creditable eighth in the Premier League the following year.

After 187 games for Reading over four and a half seasons, he joined Chelsea as a free agent in 2007 but he was unable to establish himself at the Bridge and played only 25 games before he moved to Aston Villa the following summer.

John Swift

A product of the Chelsea Academy, John Swift won the FA Youth Cup in 2012 and the FA Under-21 Premier League in 2012 before he made his only appearance for the senior team as a substitute in our 2-1 win over Cardiff in our final game of the 2013/14 season.

After several loan spells, the midfielder joined Reading in 2016 and has played over 100 games for the Berkshire club over the past three seasons.


In recent seasons, Chelsea have sent a number of our promising young players on loan to Reading to help them gain experience.

Nathaniel Chalobah and Nathan Ake spent the 2014/15 campaign on loan at the Madejski Stadium, Brazilian winger Lucas Piazon played for Reading the following year while Lewis Baker and Matt Miazga were there last season with the American recently returning for another campaign with the Royals.

Meanwhile, Jamaican defender Michael Hector was signed from Reading by Chelsea in 2015 and spent a season on loan with his former club before going out on loan spells to Eintracht Frankfurt, Hull City and Sheffield Wednesday.


Several Reading managers have had connections with Chelsea, dating all the way back to Ted Drake, who managed the Royals from 1947 to 1952 before taking Chelsea and leading us to our first league title in the 1954/55 season.

Drake’s captain in the title-winning side was Roy Bentley, who went on to manage Reading from 1963 to 1969 and later became their club secretary.

Ian Porterfield was assistant manager under Bobby Campbell when the Blues won promotion as Second Division champions in 1988/89 but the Scot left to take charge of Reading in November 1989 before he returned to the Bridge as manager in 1991.

Former Chelsea coaches Brendan Rodgers (2009) and Paul Clement (2018) also had short spells as Reading boss, while ex-Chelsea defender and assistant manager Steve Clarke was in charge from 2014 to 2015 and led the Royals to an appearance in the FA Cup semi-finals.

You can watch the game between Reading and Chelsea at the Madejski Stadium live, either via this website or our official app. Full details on how to sign up for the game can be found here.